Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Expert: Geothermal Energy Installations Could Reduce NY State's Greenhouse Gas Emissions
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Now that the cold weather has settled in, furnaces across Central New York have been humming to keep us warm.  But for most of us, that natural-gas fueled heat source creates 37 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

Geothermal designer and expert Jay Egg says simple math shows the state can’t meet its goal of reducing emissions 50 percent by 2030 without moving away from fossil fuels.

Geothermal Public Info Mtg 6:30 pm Weds @ Community Library Dewitt & Jamesville

In a talk at the Central New York Engineering Expo Monday, Egg assured the attendees that New York and most of the world are going geothermal, even if it’s not obvious.

"It’s impossible to look at a house and know that they’ve gone geothermal, so it becomes out-of-sight, out-of-mind. However, New York State has put significant effort into these programs as well as consumer outreach programs statewide to get into the communities, and to tell them, 'hey, you’ve got the solar panels, you’ve got the electric car, there’s one more thing.'”

He says every piece helps to reduce carbon emissions.  Geothermal pumps use groundwater conduction to heat and cool homes.  He recalls visiting a densely populated neighborhood in Atlanta…

“It was the middle of the summer time, so it was like 85-90 degrees. You could hear tricycle wheels on the next street; dogs barking two streets down. There was no outside noise. It was truly a surreal experience. It was almost like Twilight Zone. It was just quiet; no outside equipment noise.”

And along with that, he says, a longer lasting and efficient geothermal system.  Egg says there have been advances to make them even more economical.  He says geo-fencing uses GPS technology linked to your mobile device.

“The homes are empty during the day. If you leave your house and it’s geo-fenced, it knows to go back to the warmer temperature in the summer or the cooler temperature in the winter, and then when you hit inside that two mile geo-fence it brings it back down. It’s the best new thing I’ve seen for heating and cooling technology.”

Still, geothermal systems aren’t cheap and might not fit some applications.  The state and federal governments do offer tax credits and rebates.  More information on geothermal heat pumps can be found on NYSERDA's website.

Homeowners who want to learn more about renewable heating technologies for their homes can come to Jay's public presentation Wednesday night, 6:30 PM at the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville, 5110 Jamesville Road.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at